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NEST HABITAT SELECTION OF WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS ON YUKON FLATS, ALASKA

TitleNEST HABITAT SELECTION OF WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS ON YUKON FLATS, ALASKA
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsSafine, DE, Lindberg, MS
JournalThe Wilson
Volume120
Pagination582–593
Abstract

ABSTRACT.–-Breeding bird surveys indicate a long-term decline in numbers of scoters (Melanitta spp.)breeding in North America. Little is known about the breeding habitat and reproductive life history of WhitewingedScoters (M. fusca) in their primary breeding areas in the boreal forest of Alaska and northern Canada.We characterized selection of nest habitats and attributes within those habitats by measuring variables at nestsand random sites on the Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska. White-winged Scoters avoided nestingin meadows, but nested in scrub or forested habitat types in proportion to their availability (25 9.7, P 0.08). Nests of radio-marked females were farther from water and edge (210 43 and 10 4 m, respectively),and in slightly thicker cover (6 4%) than nests located without aid of radio transmitters. Femalesselected sites with more variable and abundant overhead and lateral cover, and sites closer to edge and waterthan random sites. The results imply nearly random use of scrub and forested habitat types within the studyarea, but selective use of attributes within those habitat types. This generalist approach to nest site selection ata larger scale may be an adaptive response to reduce detection by nest predators. Nests located without use ofradio-marked females may not be representative of the population of nests at a study site. White-winged Scotersoften selected nest sites with dense cover far from water, which may increase nest survival. However, concealedsites are difficult for heavy-bodied birds to escape and females may be trading productivity against their ownmortality. Received 3 November 2006. Accepted 26 December 2007.

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